Halifax Road, Todmorden



It is not certain when the Wellington came into existence, but it was not there at the time of the 1841 census. It had appeared by 1851 and was near to the Peacock on York Street, as Halifax Road was then known. The local historian John Travis recorded the buildings from the top, in the following order:

A warehouse belonging to William Suthers, which was later converted into a bank, was the first building in the row, and next came a low building which was first Taylor's butchers and then a nail makers belonging to William Hawksworth. This was later pulled down and the Wellington Inn erected in its place.

This photo shows the Wellington next to the bank, once the warehouse of William Suthers. William also owned the next shop that had earlier been druggists, from where he ran a hardware business.
You can just see the Wellington on this 1898 photo of Halifax Road, the last building in the row.
This modern photo shows the "join" between the Wellington and the lower houses where the Peacock was situated.

The first landlord of the Wellington was James Suthers, the brother of Jeremiah, who had been the licensee of the Peacock and had died in tragic circumstances in 1848. James was no stranger to the pub trade, having once kept a beer house at the bottom of Ferney Lee Lane as recorded by Travis, the local historian, who writes in his Handbook of Cornholme:

“At the bottom of Ferneylee-lane on one side, there was formerly a beer house, kept before 1840 by Mr James Suthers and in later times it was used by Sergeant John Heap, the constable, as a lock-up while he and his family lived next door on the main-road side.”

Sergeant Heap will crop up once again in James’ story at a later date.


James married twice, first to Mary, who died around 1822, possibly in childbirth. He then married Mary’s sister Grace in 1823. He was a shopkeeper at Blind Lane in 1841, living with his wife Grace and eight children. The children were an assortment from his first and second marriages.

He and the family then moved to take on the job as landlord of the newly built Wellington, in York Street at some point between 1841 and 1851. In 1851 he and Grace were at the inn with three of their children still at home, namely John, a son by his first wife and Susan and William, both children of his second marriage, the other children having married or gone to make their own way in the world. Son Thomas, one of his sons by Grace, had left home and became a joiner, married and had a family, including a daughter Hannah, who became the landlady of the Rope and Anchor in later years.

James employed his daughter Susan as a waitress, and at 22, she would be a good asset in drawing in the lads and helping them spend their hard earned money behind the bar. Son William was a brewer and son John was a stone- cutter. Living nearby was James’ brother John who was carrying on the other family trade as a grocer.

James must have enjoyed the life of landlord as he and Grace were still at the pub in 1861 and their daughter Susan was still a waitress and single. Obviously no lad had caught her eye as yet and maybe she had no time for the type who frequented her father’s business. Son William had given up brewing and become a glass and china dealer and later in life became the hotelkeeper at the Queen Hotel on Rise Lane.

Susan finally met her man in Thomas Law and became his second wife. Thomas was a professor of music and they set up home in North Street where Thomas was a teacher and seller of music. Thomas’ first wife was Sarah Law, whose sister Susannah married Jonas Clegg, who for a period kept the Cattle Market Inn.

James died in July of 1862 and it is then that the fun and games started between the two sets of children regarding a will he made in January 1861. James, it appears had made a will in 1852 and then made two wills within a few hours of each other in January 1861, and the children from his first marriage disputed these two later wills with the three remaining children of his second marriage who were named as Thomas, William and Susan. They felt that Thomas, William and Susan had exerted undue influence over their father and felt hard done by with the contents of this new will. The story is best told by the article relating to it reported in The Times of January 25 1864. Notice the mention of Inspector Heap who appeared earlier in the story as Sergeant Heap.

The Times Jan 25 1864 Page 11 Issue 24777, Column C

Court of Probate, Jan 23

Before Sir J. P. Wilde


The plaintiffs in this case were the executors of James Suthers, late of Todmorden in Yorkshire, and they propounded a will dated the 18th of January 1861.

The defendants, who were some of the next of kin of the deceased, pleaded undue execution, incapacity, undue influence, and that the paper propounded was not the will of the deceased. They further propounded a will of June 1852.

Mr. Temple, Q.C., and Dr. Spinks appeared for the plaintiffs; Dr. Deane, Q.C., and Mr. A. Stavely Hill for the defendants.

The deceased kept a beerhouse and an earthenware shop at Todmorden. He had been twice married. His second wife, whom he married in 1823, was the sister of his first wife, and he had children by each of them. The defendants are the children of the first wife and their husbands. There were only three children of the second wife surviving-two sons and a daughter. The two sons are the plaintiffs and the daughters name is now Susan Law. The plaintiff, Thomas Suthers and his sister Susan lived with their father and mother and the other children lived in the neighbourhood.

Subsequent to the making of the will in 1852, which was set up by the defendants, differences broke out between the two families and the deceased expressed his intention of protecting his second wife and her children. At the beginning of 1861 he had an illness, and on the evening of the 16th of January he sent for Mr. Eastwood, an attorney, who took his instructions for a will, by which he left a small annuity to his wife, £50 to each of the plaintiffs, £25 to Susan, and divided the residue between all his children by both wives.

Mr. Eastwood immediately drew up a will according to theses instructions, and one of the sons went out to look for someone who could act as second attesting witness and brought in Mr. Heap, a police inspector, and the will was executed and attested. It was then between 1 and 2 in the morning, and the will was therefore dated the 17th of January.

Between 10 and 11 on that morning the deceased again sent for Mr. Eastwood and told him he had been thinking matters over, and he was not satisfied with the arrangement he had made the night before, as it would render necessary the sale of the property immediately after his death, and he then gave instructions for another will whereby, without altering the provision he had made for his wife, he left legacies of £40 to Susan and of £10 each to four of the other children, the residue to the plaintiffs who were again appointed executors. Mr. Eastwood immediately drew up a will to this effect, and it was executed on the same day, Mr. Eastwood and his clerk Mr. Stephenson being the two attesting witnesses.

Mr. Eastwood stated that he had dated it the 18th of January, although it was actually executed on the 17th, in order to avoid any confusion that might arise from two inconsistent wills bearing precisely the same date.

The witness in support of the will were Mr. Eastwood and his clerk, the plaintiffs Thomas and William Suthers and their sister, Susan Law; Grace Suthers, the deceased's widow, and Mr. Heap, the police inspector. They stated that at the time when the two wills of the 17th and 18th of January were executed the deceased was perfectly competent and rational. He had had a fit or stroke arising from indigestion shortly before that date, but he had entirely recovered from it as far as his mental capacity was concerned. It was also proved that he had transacted business with a brewer on the 10th of January and on the 23rd of January, and that he had had two or three interviews during his illness with Mr. Taplin, a Unitarian minister, who was struck with the remarkable intelligence of his conversation on religious topics.

After January 1861 his health improved and he left his bed and attended to his business as usual. In the following September he was again taken ill, and he died on the 9th of July, 1862 at the age of 71 years. The value of the property, deducting encumbrances, was estimated at between £600 and £700.

Dr. Deane submitted that no reasonable explanation had been given of the reason of the testator's to change of intention between 1 o'clock and 11 o'clock on the morning of the 17th of January, and that the details given by the witnesses of the circumstances of the execution of the two wills of the 17th of January were so full of suspicion that the Court would infer that the dispositions contained in those instruments did not emanate from the deceased, and that the plaintiffs had obtained his signature to them while he was in a state of unconsciousness.

Three witnesses were called in support of the plea of incapacity. The medical attendant of the deceased, Mr. Hardman, said he was called in to attend him on the 15th of January, and found that he had had an attack of apoplexy, and was totally unconscious and unable to swallow; that he was not able to swallow until the 20th of January.

Mr. Hardman, who is a very old man, and has been in practice for 50 years, said that he had probably made an entry of his attendance in his books; but as he had not been subpoenaed to bring them with him he had not done so, although he had received a letter giving him notice to produce them from the attorney on the other side.

A barber named Sutcliffe was also called to prove that in January, 1861, he went to the deceased's house to shave him, that the deceased was then confined to his house by illness for about four weeks, and that for the first five or six days after he was attacked he appeared to be insensible.

The third witness was a medical man, whose evidence was not material.

Sir J.P. Wilde, without calling upon Mr. Temple for a reply, said he thought it was his duty to pronounce for the will. If the case in support of the will had rested upon the evidence of the plaintiffs and their sister he should have had great difficulty in dealing with it, for they gave their evidence in a very unsatisfactory manner, and the Court did not believe a great deal that they had said. But it was the function of the Court to ascertain what was the real will of the deceased, and to keep clear of the prejudices that must be excited by the conduct of the persons interested under the will in endeavouring to palm off a false story upon the Court.

Three perfectly independent and disinterested witnesses-Mr. Eastwood and his clerk and Mr. Heap had given evidence in support of the will which was entirely inconsistent with the idea that the deceased was in an insensible or comatose state when the will was made. The signature to the will was strong evidence to the same effect, for it was very little, if at all, different from the deceased's ordinary handwriting. He did not for a moment believe that Mr. Hardman had intended to deceive the Court. He had no doubt that the deceased had had an attack of apoplexy, and that he had been in a comatose state. But he believed that Mr. Hardman had made a mistake as to the date of the attack of apoplexy, and that the deceased was of testamentary capacity when the will was executed.

He should therefore pronounce for the will.

Dr. Deane moved for costs out of the estate

Mr. Temple opposed the motion

Sir. J.P. Wilde said that the story told by the plaintiffs with regard to the circumstances under which the will was executed was so well calculated to excite suspicion that the defendants were justified in insisting upon an enquiry. He should, therefore, order the defendants' costs to be paid out of the estate.

So his second wife and her three children won the day and the first wife’s children, drew the short straw.

After the Suthers, Mr. Thomas Baldam, a man born in Lincolnshire became the new landlord. The address of the Wellington was now 3, York Street. Number 1 was a grocers, the place where the early Suthers family had plied their trade. Thomas and his family had previously been living at Coalyard, near Callis Woodbottom where he was a beer seller, so he was not new to the trade. He and his wife ran the Wellington whilst their son John occupied a separate household with his family as a clogger. Thomas died in 1875 so he did not have a long stay at the Wellington. It then passed to his son John, the clogger.

For some strange reason, John and his family are recorded as Baldam Lord in the 1881 census returns and revert to just Baldam in 1891. John was married to Betty and by the time they had taken over at the Wellington, they had a family of five children; two sons and three daughters. The eldest daughter Hannah, at 18, helped as a waitress in the inn, whilst all but the youngest, Edward at nine, who went to school, were in employment. The family continued to prosper and make a good living and Hannah was joined by her sister Mary as an extra waitress in the pub, whilst son James became an iron turner and Edward, the youngest, found work as a wood turner.

John began to feel the strain of the work, always having to be cheerful and pleasant to everyone, plus the physical hard work, which with advancing age, became harder with every year that passed. He decided to pass on the work to his son James and take things a bit easier.

James married in 1893 and settled down. His wife was Clara Barker and they had two children by 1901, Tom and Annie. His father still kept an eye out and no doubt would while away an hour or so in conversation with the regulars, as he and Betty were still living at the pub. John ended his days at 41, Crystal Road, Blackpool aged 65.


There is where our tale of the Wellington must end, later landlords coming and going, but little recorded. It remains much as it was when it was first built, outwardly at least.